[whatwg] Allow trailing slash in always-empty HTML5 elements?

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at gmail.com
Thu Nov 30 05:41:33 PST 2006

Hi All:

Being new to this list, I've been following this thread with interest and
have some questions and comments:

As for my questions:

1.) I read the FAQ http://blog.whatwg.org/faq/ and it seemed to imply that
HTML 5 and XHTML where not at odds with each other?  Did I misread that,
because from comments on this thread I get the impression that might not be
the case.

2.) A similar question, but is the goal for HTML5 and XHTML to slowly
converge, or is the goal for them to diverage?  If the former, it would seem
that Sam's proposal makes a heck of a lot of sense.  If the latter, I would
ask why?  Why would you want to create two different standards to choose
between? Why create a fork in the road where whichever branch you take means
you'll never be taking the other one (w/o a lot of backtracking anyway.)  If
they are converging, there's no need to fear which road to take because both
will eventually get you to the same place.

As for confusion vs creating a problem, from my seven years experience as a
programming instructor and course material author I would look at it like

1.) Don't support trailing slashes, and now people have to be taught how to
fix it.  That requires active effort and active understanding which is
likely to cause more than a bit of confusion because it is different than
what was accepted before and because it is different than XHTML. They will
wonder about the difference with 99.9% of them never reading these archives
and probably >99% of them never getting a full explanation. Hence
significant confusion among a large number of people who are attempting to
validate with ongoing confusion between what works for HTML and what works
for XHTML when ironically the goal was to reduce confusion.

2.) Do support trailing slashes. Everything just works fot everybody:
Validates fine for people who don't use trailing slashes. Validates fine for
people who do using trailing slashes. Most people never even notice the
inconsistency (lack of consistency is not a problem for most people unless
it stops them from otherwise doing something. That's partly why so many
salespeople so easily paint so many technical people into corners when they
promise a world that actually can't be delivered. But I digress... :)  A few
people would notice the inconsistency, but most of them are of the mind to
understand the explanation. For those who aren't, they can just be told one
of the following:

1.) "Well, the designers chose that to be consistent with both HTML and
XHTML since it doesn't otherwise cause a problem," or 
2.) "The trailing slash is optional for the singleton elements only, as they
are the only ones where it's applicable," 


3.) "Uh, don't worry about it.  It doesn't really matter. Works either way."

Given answer #3, I can almost guarantee you that 99% of people told #3 will
be happy as a clam with the answer and just go about their business, totally
unconfused.  Most people won't care enough to evaluate the inconsistancy any
further, as long as it's not causing them any problems.  (this again from my
seven years experience training programmers.)  

JMTCW IMHO, anyway. :)

A final reason to support trailing slashes is for people who, like me, plan
to one day fully support XHTML even though that plan may ultimately never
materialize. :)

Oh, one last thing. I recently chose to use WordPress because, after working
with several others and being less than happy with them (dasBlog, Community
Server, and TypePad)  it appeared that WordPress was by far the best when it
came to standards and supporting new and useful features. And I was very
happy with the decision. Now, after reading this thread, I'm thoroughly
depressed with respect to WordPress. FWIW.  :-(  

-Mike Schinkel

P.S. Hi Sam, you might recognize my name as the founder and former president
of VBxtras/Xtras.Net, here reincarnated in a new form. :)

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